With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro

THE BIG IDEA: Mitt Romney agrees with President Trump that a rising China threatens the United States, but the Republican senator has an entirely different vision about what’s required to prevail in the long-term struggle with Beijing.

Trump has governed as an isolationist, protectionist and nativist. In Romney's maiden speech yesterday on the Senate floor, he presented the case for international alliances, the gains from trade and the imperative of immigration. The freshman from Utah never mentioned Trump by name, who like him is 72 years old, but he did invoke the memory of John McCain.

Romney said imposing tariffs to crack down on the theft of intellectual property is appropriate, but he emphasized that it’s not the only, or necessarily the best, lever. Just as important, in his view, is welcoming immigrants who can help the United States out-innovate China. Romney warned that the Chinese received almost as many global patents as Americans did last year, that they’re “far ahead of us in 5G” and “on track to surpass us” in artificial intelligence.

“One dimension of American innovation is often underestimated: America is a magnet for the world’s best and the brightest. They want to come here, not China,” he said. “Over half of the 25 most valuable high-tech companies in the U.S. were founded by immigrants or their children. It is very much in our national interest to keep attracting the world’s best minds to America.”

If Romney had defeated Barack Obama in 2012, he might have been nearing the end of his second term as president. Instead, he finds himself No. 97 in Senate seniority. But he has earned an elder statesman status that bolsters his standing. The former governor of Massachusetts, whose father was governor of Michigan and served in Richard Nixon’s Cabinet, is only the second man in U.S. history to lead one state as governor and represent another in the Senate. Tennessean-turned-Texan Sam Houston, whose namesake is America’s fourth-largest city, is the other. When he arrived in January, Romney sought and received a seat on the Foreign Relations Committee.

-- Implicitly rejecting the ethos of America First, Romney said the country will fall behind if it continues turning inward and drifting toward unilateralism. China has 1.386 billion people, and the U.S. population is around 327 million.

“Because China’s population is almost four times our size, it’s economy should eventually dwarf ours, and, because economic advantage enables military advantage, China’s military could eclipse our own,” he explained. “In the long term, for a country like ours with a relatively small population to rival a country like China with its much larger population, we must join our economic and military might with that of other free nations. Alliances are absolutely essential to America’s security. I cannot state that more plainly. Our alliances are invaluable to us and to the cause of freedom. We should strengthen our alliances, not dismiss or begrudge them. We should enhance our trade with allies, not disrupt it, and coordinate all the more closely our security and defense. These alliances are a key advantage we have over China: America has many friends, China has very few.”

-- He also made clear that he’s not on the same page as Trump about Russia or NATO. The president has flirted with pulling out of the 70-year-old security pact that was critical to winning the Cold War and maybe even averting World War III. Trump complained in London again on Tuesday that other countries don’t contribute their fair share to the alliance. Speaking a few hours later, Romney said: “It is in the United States’ most vital interest to see a strong NATO, a strong Europe, stronger ties with the free nations of Asia and the subcontinent, and with every free country. We need to hold our friends closer, not neglect them or drive them away.”

-- It’s not just military and economic alliances: Romney identified the national debt as a handicap in the brewing cold war against China. Trump has seemed consistently unconcerned that the United States is drowning in red ink, and the self-described “king of debt” — with a record of bankruptcies in his business life — has made no serious efforts to prevent the national debt from ballooning. “Adding a trillion dollars every year to the debt means that in 10 years, we will be spending almost as much on interest as we spend on our military,” Romney said. “America won’t be strong enough to defend its interests and leadership if it strains under a crippling fiscal burden.”

-- He said tribalism is preventing Americans from coming together to fight a common adversary in a new kind of struggle. “The disappearance of traditional media and the emergence of social media have made it more difficult to unify the country,” he said. “Conspiring voices online prey on the human tendency to diminish the dignity and worth of people with different views, of different races, religions or colors. Contempt rather than empathy is a growing feature of our politics and media. Each of us must make an effort to shut out the voices of hate and fear, to ignore divisive and alarming conspiracies, and to be more respectful … of our fellow Americans. And when it comes to cooling the rhetoric and encouraging unity, there is no more powerful medium than the bully pulpit of the president of the United States.

-- One reason Romney has a reservoir of credibility on foreign policy is because of his prescient warnings during the 2012 campaign about the threat posed by a revanchist Russia. He was mocked mercilessly by Obama and Democrats at the time. Many of them subsequently apologized, publicly and privately. Romney said his thinking has evolved.

“Eight years ago, I argued that Russia was our No. 1 geopolitical adversary. Today, China is poised to assume that distinction,” he said. “Russia continues its malign effort, of course, violating treaties, invading sovereign nations, pursuing nuclear superiority, interfering in elections, spreading lies and hate, protecting the world’s worst actors from justice, and promoting authoritarianism. But Russia is on a declining path: Its population is shrinking, and its industrial base is lagging. John McCain famously opined that Russia is a gas station parading as a country. And as it falls further behind, we must expect Russia’s inevitable desperation to lead to further and more aberrant conduct. Unlike Russia, China is on a rising path.”

-- Romney acknowledged that the consensus view among elites in both parties that China would embrace the rules of the global order after it was admitted to the World Trade Organization turned out to be wrong. “To date, our national response has been ad hoc, short term or piecemeal,” he lamented. “It is past time for us to construct a comprehensive strategy to meet the challenge of an ambitious and increasingly hostile China. … Too often, we just ignore China’s aggression, genuflecting before the throne of free markets. I’m a free trade, free market guy, but free markets require rules to enforce honest competition. Slavishly accepting China’s cheating as a dynamic of free market competition makes no sense.”

-- Criticizing China has become de rigueur for Republicans since Trump launched the trade war. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) warned yesterday, for example, that the Chinese are attempting to steal intellectual property from U.S. academic institutions, including the University of Iowa. “Grassley warned of the Chinese government’s efforts to infiltrate America’s educational system through Confucius Institutes, which are ‘directly funded by the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China,’” the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports. “He said the centers are ‘used as propaganda outlets to influence a pro-China view of the world.’ He noted that ‘the University of Iowa has hosted one on its campus since 2006.’ The UI Confucius Institute is among 100-plus teaching and research centers underwritten by the Chinese government that have opened on American campuses since 2005.”

-- Romney's 21-minute speech on Tuesday captured in miniature the degree to which he has played the inside game this year, seeking areas of common ground with the president without fully capitulating. Romney called Trumpism a cancer on conservatism in 2016. Refusing to vote for the nominee of the party he led four years earlier, he wrote in his wife, Ann, on the ballot. But Romney met with Trump during the transition and auditioned to be secretary of state. Eventually it became clear that the president-elect wasn’t ever going to tap him, and the whole exercise was probably an alpha male’s effort to humiliate a former foe.

Running last year in the GOP primary to replace the retiring Orrin Hatch, Romney threaded the needle and spoke cautiously about Trump. After he locked down the nomination — and then after he won the election — Romney became more outspoken again in his criticism of Trump. On New Year’s Day, he wrote a scathing op-ed for The Washington Post about the president, which generated a stream of vindictive from Trump and annoyed some of his new colleagues.

He has picked his spots carefully since then. In March, he was one of a dozen Senate Republicans to back the resolution of disapproval aimed at blocking Trump from diverting money from the military budget to build a border wall. But he was not among the 11 Senate Republicans who stood up to the president in January on a key vote that would have prevented the easing of sanctions on a Russian oligarch who is buddies with Vladimir Putin. He told Bloomberg News yesterday that “tariffs on Mexico are a bad idea all the way around.”

It’s a constant balancing act. Two weeks ago, for example, Romney said he respects Justin Amash and called the Michigan congressman’s statement that Trump has committed impeachable offenses courageous. But he said he doesn’t support impeachment. “The American people just aren’t there, and I think those that are considering impeachment have to look also at the jury, which would be the Senate,” he said on CNN. “The Senate is certainly not there either.”

Friends warned Romney that he’d find the pace of the Senate too slow and the decision-making too cumbersome. He said he hasn’t found that to be the case. While Trump demands that the chamber eliminate the legislative filibuster, Romney nodded to James Madison’s conception of the Senate as a cooling saucer. “While few bills actually become law, the fact that both political parties must reach consensus for a bill to pass reinforces the ties that bind our republic,” he said.

Romney said he’s scheduled private sit-downs with 68 of his 99 Senate colleagues since the start of the year, and he’s working to arrange the rest. “The truth is that senators on both sides of the aisle are remarkably friendly and collegial once the cameras are turned off,” he said.

-- When Trump thinks about the 19th century, he celebrates Andrew Jackson — whose portrait hangs in the Oval Office. Romney’s hero is Abraham Lincoln, who didn’t just save the country by putting down the treasonous rebellion of Southern slaveholders but also signed the legislation that created the incentives to make possible the transcontinental railroad and thereby connected a continent. “The country was divided as never before or since, and the president was preoccupied with preserving the union,” Romney said of Lincoln. “Despite the gathering storm, he had both the foresight to see the impact of a transcontinental railroad and the confidence to believe it could actually be constructed.”

Romney highlighted the political unpopularity of granting public land to private companies that stood to make fortunes off those lands, but he argued that public-private partnerships were the only way the project could have gotten done. “Lincoln and Congress defied popular criticism and did what they believed was in the best interest of the country,” he said.

The senator acknowledged the corruption of the robber barons, the exploitation of the Chinese immigrants who laid the tracks only to be denied citizenship and the callousness toward the rights of Native Americans. These parts of the story are often whitewashed. “There can be a blindness in the human mind that’s clouded by ambition,” Romney said. “Despite these unpardonable failings, the transcontinental railroad was a grand achievement.”

For Romney, the railroad is a parable of what’s possible. Last month, the senator attended a ceremony in his adopted state of Utah to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad. The golden spike was hammered in at Promontory Summit. “Bringing a nation of 330 million people together in a shared effort is a greater challenge these days than bringing two coasts together with a railroad,” he said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “But now, as then, national unity demands that the voices of leaders draw upon the better angels of our nature.”

The Daily 202's BIG IDEA> Get James' insight into Washington every weekday on your smart speaker or favorite podcast player.
Subscribe on Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod and other podcast players.
 
Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning briefing for decision-makers.
Sign up to receive the newsletter.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Sudan’s capital is on lockdown after an explosion of violence that left at least 60 dead. Jason Patinkin and Max Bearak report from Khartoum: “Paramilitary troops surrounded the sit-in protest site that had been the heart of a pro-democracy uprising in Sudan’s capital Tuesday, a day after an explosion of violence thrust the country’s political future into even greater turmoil. The paramilitary group, known as the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, patrolled Khartoum’s streets, setting up dozens of checkpoints. The RSF dismantled the sit-in site Monday in an attack that killed at least 35, according to Sudan Doctors Syndicate, a professional group associated with the protests. The syndicate later said that dozens more were killed in subsequent violence, including in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman and in Sudan’s White Nile state, raising the total to 60 dead by Wednesday with hundreds of injured.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Pfizer researchers in 2015 found the company’s blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis therapy Enbrel appeared to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 64 percent, but the company opted against further investigation and didn’t make the data public because verifying that claim would have required a costly clinical trial. The company said the likelihood of a successful clinical trial was low because Enbrel does not directly reach brain tissue. (Christopher Rowland)

  2. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is calling a special legislative session to address gun laws after the Virginia Beach massacre that left a dozen dead. The governor called on Republicans who control the General Assembly to take up gun-control bills previously quashed by a handful of GOP lawmakers. The Republican House speaker responded that Northam cannot “specify what the General Assembly chooses to consider or how we do our work.” (Gregory S. Schneider)

  3. The former Broward County sheriff’s deputy who did not pursue the Parkland shooter was charged with child neglect and negligence. Scot Peterson was arrested and faces 11 counts after an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which probed why he didn't go after the killer. (Mark Berman)

  4. The FBI is grappling with the limits of its power as it combats a growing tide of domestic terrorism. The bureau is often forced to turn to local prosecutors to charge people who it is concerned might be planning domestic attacks but who have not violated any federal laws, sparking a debate over whether federal law enforcement agencies need new laws to do their jobs. (New York Times)

  5. Changes to how the Department of Agriculture handles pork inspections could be delayed after 17 congressional Democrats balked at the proposed rules. The USDA wants to reduce the number of federal inspectors on slaughter lines by 40 percent, which some Democrats say would endanger food safety. (Kimberly Kindy)
  6. The state of New York is poised to ban cat declawing, which is painful for felines. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is expected to sign the measure. (New York Times)
  7. The leader of the religious group La Luz Del Mundo was arrested on suspicion of rape, human trafficking and production of child pornography. Naasón Joaquín García and three co-defendants are alleged to have committed 26 felonies in Los Angeles County between 2015 and 2018. (Los Angeles Times)

  8. The executive producer of “Jeopardy!” warned that “very, very, very appropriate” action would be taken against those responsible for leaking a clip of James Holzhauer’s loss. The footage started circulating online on Sunday, a full day before the episode aired. Producer Harry Friedman suggested that the game show’s executives have identified a prime suspect. (Emily Yahr)

STANDING UP TO THE PRESIDENT (MAYBE):

-- Republican lawmakers warned the White House that they’ll try to block Trump’s tariffs on Mexico if he goes forward with them. Erica Werner, Seung Min Kim, Damian Paletta and Mary Beth Sheridan report: “During a closed-door lunch on Capitol Hill, at least a half-dozen senators spoke in opposition to the tariffs … No senator spoke in support … The lawmakers told officials from the White House and Justice Department they probably had the Senate votes they needed to take action on the tariffs, even if that meant overriding a veto. ‘There is not much support in my conference for tariffs — that’s for sure,’ said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). He said senators hope that negotiations with Mexico will be ‘fruitful’ and that the tariffs will not happen. Most GOP senators strongly oppose tariffs because they view them as taxes on Americans.”

-- Constitutional scholars say Trump's use of a national emergency law to impose tariffs on Mexico is legally problematic for a host of reasons. Fred Barbash reports: “His promise to punish Mexico with escalating tariffs unless it controls what he calls the ‘invasion’ of migrants across the southern border is premised on a law that has never been used either as a tool of immigration policy or tariffs. The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) mentions neither. … ‘IEEPA was not designed for the imposition of tariffs,’ said Jennifer Hillman, a Georgetown University law professor. … The wording of the IEEPA, ‘though ambiguous, was not intended to develop immigration policy through tariffs,’ said Raj Bhala, a University of Kansas School of Law international trade expert. ‘It’s a stretch indeed,’ he said.”

-- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s top Democrat, Bob Menendez, and a close congressional ally of Trump, Lindsey Graham, are teaming up to try to block 22 arms deals largely benefiting Saudi Arabia. Menendez (N.J.) told Karoun Demirjian that he will introduce “22 resolutions of disapproval,” one for each deal the Trump administration informed lawmakers last month it would push through. Graham (R-S.C.) has been one of the most vocal critics of Trump’s embrace of Saudi leaders in the wake of last year’s brutal killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Menendez and Graham’s plans, for which they expect to enlist more bipartisan support, come as details emerge regarding seven secret nuclear technology transfers the Trump administration approved for Saudi Arabia — two of them following Khashoggi’s death,” per Demirjian. “Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), citing information from the Department of Energy, announced Tuesday that the Trump administration had allowed U.S. nuclear energy companies to share technology and other information with Saudi Arabia on Oct. 18, 2018 — just 16 days after Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul — and again Feb. 18, 2019, less than a week after the House voted to end U.S. backing for the Saudi-led military effort in Yemen’s civil war.”

THE TRADE WARS:

-- Trump’s tariffs on China are exacerbating problems for Corn Belt farmers, who have struggled to plant seeds this season amid historic rainfall. Andrew Van Dam, Laris Karklis and Tim Meko report: “Through all of April and all of May, wave after wave of rain hit the nation right in the breadbasket, with April capping the wettest 12 months on record for the continental United States. … Farmers cannot plant in that muck. It fouls their equipment and strangles their seeds. … As the calendar ticks toward the point of no return, new data released Monday shows farmers have planted 67 percent of the acres they had planned to put in corn. … The coming week’s weather will make or break this year’s crop. … Farmers could switch to soybeans, but then they would find themselves even more exposed to [Trump’s] trade war with China, the world’s largest soybean market.”

-- Wall Street posted one of its best days of the year after Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell said the central bank will take “appropriate” action to insulate the U.S. economy from the harms of Trump’s trade war. Thomas Heath reports: “The Dow Jones industrial average bounced 512 points, or 2 percent, to close at 25,332. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index closed up 58 points, or 2.14 percent, at 2,803 on Powell’s comments and on reports that China and Mexico had expressed desires to settle trade issues. The Nasdaq composite closed at 7,527, a 194-point rebound — or 2.65 percent — from Monday. ‘We are closely monitoring the implications of these developments for the U.S. economic outlook and, as always, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion,’ Powell said Tuesday during a speech in Chicago.”

-- Research from the Brookings Institution shows how low-income American families will disproportionately suffer the brunt of the Trump tariffs. The AP’s Josh Boak and Jonathan J. Cooper report: “There are two major reasons why the poor face an outsized burden, [senior Brookings fellow Jay Shambaugh] said. First, poorer Americans tend to spend all of their income, while wealthier Americans have enough income left over to save and invest. That leaves the poor more exposed to higher prices from import taxes. Second, the wealthy are more likely to splurge on services such as farm-to-table restaurant meals or gym memberships that are not subject to tariffs at all. But poorer Americans spend a higher percentage of their income on basics such as clothing and groceries that are more likely to be imported and subject to tariffs.”

TRUMP IN EUROPE:

-- Amid protests in London, Trump appeared to be in denial about his poor standing on the global stage. David Nakamura and Toluse Olorunnipa report: “Instead of recognizing the public’s expressions of anger, which included a 20-foot-tall, diaper-clad ‘Trump baby’ blimp flying above Parliament Square, the 45th president has adopted a different tactic — denial. ‘I heard there were protests,’ Trump said during a news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday. ‘I said, ‘Where are the protests?’ I don’t see any protests. I did see a small protest today when I came — very small. So a lot of it is fake news, I hate to say.’ Trump’s efforts to minimize opposition to his presidency on the first stop of a week-long tour of three European nations represented his latest attempt to misrepresent his public standing and rewrite perceptions about the popularity of his agenda.”

-- Meanwhile, a giant blimp of a diaper-clad “Trump baby” and a talking Trump robot sitting on a toilet headlined the London protests. Karla Adam reports: “The road outside 10 Downing Street was sealed off with steel barricades, and there was a heavy police presence. But nearby, the ‘Carnival of Resistance’ was in full swing in on-off rain. … Activists estimated 75,000 people hit the streets Tuesday — fewer than those at the anti-Trump rally in 2018, which organizers said drew more than 100,000. But the protesters were vocal, their chants — including ‘Say it loud, say it clear! Donald Trump’s not welcome here!’ and ‘Donald Trump, shame on you!’ — ringing in the air as reporters headed to the news conference. … Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, was among those who addressed the crowds. … The Labour leader also said he would resist any attempts to allow private American companies to take over ‘our precious, wonderful National Health Service. . . . We will not stand for that.’”

-- Corbyn’s defense of the NHS came as Trump suggested that the future of Britain’s health-care system should be part of trade talks with the United States. Adam Taylor reports: “’When you’re dealing on trade, everything is on the table — so NHS or anything else, and a lot more than that,’ the president said when asked about the position of Britain’s health system in a trade deal. ‘Everything will be on the table, absolutely.’ May, keenly aware of how sensitive an issue the NHS is in Britain, stepped in quickly, saying that ‘the point about making trade deals is that, of course, that both sides negotiate.’ Trump’s vague answer to the question may suggest he hadn’t given the idea much thought. He may already be reconsidering his position. … The behemoth system is simultaneously one of the most lauded and derided parts of British life. Polls have shown that the NHS is more cherished than the monarchy or the British army but also that many Britons are dissatisfied with the service and worried about its future.”

-- During their joint news conference, Trump told May she should “stick around” to hammer out a U.S.-U.K. trade deal that he said will be “phenomenal.” She’s stepping down from her position on Friday. William Booth and Anne Gearan report: “That deal — whatever it is — would be struck with May’s successor. There is no sign that this agonizing, divisive thing called Brexit will be over anytime soon. It could be months, or it could be years. And there can be no new trade deal between the United States and the United Kingdom as long as Britain remains a member of the European bloc. … On Tuesday, Trump brushed aside concerns over other looming divisions between the two countries, including over Britain’s possible embrace of Chinese Huawei telecommunications, which the United States has branded a national security risk. ‘We’re going to have absolutely an agreement on Huawei and everything else,’ he said … At the news conference with May, Trump was asked about her various potential successors. And he could not resist a little political handicapping. He mentioned knowing two of the contenders — Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt — and said he thought both would ‘do a very good job.’”

-- Trump’s London visit has been a family affair. The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers report: “Whether they had official roles in the visit or not, the extended Trump family seemed to materialize in London overnight — all save the president’s youngest son, Barron, who stayed home. ... White House officials have grown accustomed to accommodating President Trump’s children, whether that includes redrawing plans for a state visit or evicting guests from their seats at the State of the Union address. … A few days before the event, Mr. Trump was alerted to the lack of seats by one of his children, and Mrs. Trump was told to make room … Among those whose seats were gone was Aubrey Reichard-Eline, the mother of Grace Eline, a 10-year-old cancer survivor who was invited because she works to help other children fight the disease.”

EARTH IN THE BALANCE:

-- “Joe Biden’s presidential campaign lifted language without credit, at times word for word, when crafting its education and climate plans, incidents the campaign acknowledged and said were inadvertent,” Matt Viser, Dino Grandoni and Jeff Stein report. “The incidents appeared to be staff errors when detailing Biden’s policies, and they underscored how hastily his campaign was attempting to put out specific proposals. But the issue was a particularly sensitive one for Biden, whose 1988 campaign was derailed after he plagiarized, in speeches, rhetoric used by British politician Neil Kinnock. Reports also emerged that he used lines from two Democrats, Robert F. Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey, without attribution. Biden had also been cited for plagiarism in a paper during law school, an error he blamed on not knowing how to properly cite sources. He quit the campaign shortly after the flurry of uses was reported. Biden’s campaign said Tuesday that it would update his policy plans online to properly attribute the sources of information, which in the case of his environmental plan included a coal industry entity. ... For some liberal advocates, it was a sign that the policies were not taken seriously by the campaign or the candidate.”

-- Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren proposed spending $2 trillion on clean energy as part of her version of the Green New Deal. Stein and Grandoni report: “Under the umbrella of a Green New Deal, Warren is pitching a ‘Green Apollo Program’ to invest in clean energy technology and a ‘Green Marshall Plan’ devoted to encouraging countries to buy U.S.-made clean energy technologies. Warren also said she would aim to replace the Commerce Department with a ‘Department of Economic Development’ to oversee a new national jobs strategy as part of a new ‘economic patriotism.'" In contrast to Biden, Warren's proposal was criticized by groups linked to the fossil fuels industry.

-- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) released a “Global Climate Mobilization” plan that includes 27 policy initiatives he said would put the U.S. in a position of international climate leadership. “Two years after the Paris Agreement withdrawal, we must change course — and fast. It is time for bold American leadership, and a fundamental recalibration of our nation’s posture in the world. That starts with recommitting the United States to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. And while rejoining the Paris Agreement is a crucial first step, it is far from sufficient to meet the challenge before us. Confronting the climate crisis must be the foremost priority for our nation at home, and it must also become central to America’s relationship to the international community.” 

-- During an interview in London with former “Celebrity Apprentice” star Piers Morgan that aired today, Trump said that Charles, Prince of Wales, failed to convince him the climate is warming during a 90-minute meeting this week. “I believe that there’s a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways,” he said in a wide-ranging interview with Morgan on “Good Morning Britain.” Trump blamed China, India and Russia for polluting the environment and said the United States has “among the cleanest climates.”

“In the interview with Morgan in the Churchill War Rooms, Trump also weighed in on his administration’s standoff with Iran, saying he would prefer not to take military action while maintaining, ‘There’s always a chance,’” Isaac Stanley-Becker reports. “He also said he wanted to look into the issue of suppressors that muffle the sound of gunfire.Sizing up his 2020 competitors, Trump offered, ‘There’s no Winston Churchill in the group. Let me put it that way.’ Asked why he had banned transgender people from serving in the military, Trump said there were too many complications that arose from gender reassignment surgery and related drugs. … When it came to his own decision not to serve in the military — he received a medical deferment from service in Vietnam — Trump said he was ‘never a fan of that war.’ ‘I’ll be honest with you,’ he said. ‘I thought it was a terrible war.’”

-- “A group of young Americans who have spent nearly four years trying to compel the federal government to take action on climate change found themselves back in court Tuesday, arguing that their unprecedented lawsuit should move forward,” Brady Dennis reports: “And the Trump administration, like the Obama administration before it, was there to argue once again that the lawsuit should be tossed out before it ever goes to trial, both because the plaintiffs do not meet the legal requirements to bring such a suit and because ‘there is no fundamental constitutional right to a ‘stable climate system.’

-- Satellite data shows that deforestation in the Amazon is rising under Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. From Reuters’s Anthony Boadle and Lisandra Paraguassu: “According to the Brazilian space research institute INPE, the DETER alerting system registered deforestation of 739 square kilometers (285 square miles) in May, the first of three months in which logging tends to surge following the region’s rainy season. That is up from 550 square kilometers in May 2018 and more than double the deforestation detected two years earlier.”

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- A federal judge absolved the Justice Department of his earlier demand to publish the transcripts of phone calls between former national security adviser Michael Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. (Politico)

-- The White House instructed former communications director Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, the ex-chief of staff to former White House counsel Don McGahn, not to comply with subpoenas from House Democrats. Rachael Bade and Carol D. Leonnig report: “Both faced a Tuesday deadline to turn over documents, and have been subpoenaed to appear to testify later in June. In a statement, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), [House Judiciary Committee] chairman, said the two were told not to cooperate. ‘As part of President Trump’s continued obstruction of Congress, the White House has instructed both Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson not to turn over records in response to subpoenas issued by our committee last month,’ Nadler said. ‘I note that Ms. Hicks has agreed to turn over some documents to the committee related to her time working for the Trump campaign, and I thank her for that show of good faith.’ Nadler said federal law says the documents that left the White House months ago are no longer covered by executive privilege ‘if they ever were.’”

-- House Democrats said they’re willing to renew negotiations with DOJ over access to Bob Mueller’s full report and files, but they rejected a call to cancel a House vote to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt. The New York Times’s Nicholas Fandos reports: Nadler, “who issued a subpoena for the materials at the center of a simmering dispute, said he was ready to talk immediately to try to reach a compromise, but only 'without conditions' preset by the Justice Department. The House has scheduled the contempt vote for next Tuesday after weeks of refusals by Mr. Barr and his department to comply with the subpoena.”

-- DOJ told a federal judge it can’t disclose any redacted parts of Mueller’s report without harming ongoing national security investigations and other sensitive matters. BuzzFeed News’s Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier report: “A 47-page declaration … sheds new light about details hidden behind the redactions. For instance, the government has refused to identify some of the Facebook groups used by Russian officials to push propaganda during the campaign. If the government released the names of the groups, the new declaration argued, it would unfairly out unsuspecting Americans who joined the groups and were tricked by Russia’s effort. … The government also told the court that parts of the document must remain secret to protect ongoing criminal and national security investigations and internal discussions by Mueller’s team. Those discussions offer ‘detailed explanations of the basis for the decisions made by the Special Counsel to pursue indictments in some instances, and not to pursue charges in others.’”

-- The former MI6 agent behind the Trump dossier has agreed to be questioned by U.S. officials about his relationship with the FBI. Christopher Steele will meet with investigators in London in the following weeks. (The Times)

-- More than two dozen liberal groups signed a letter urging Nancy Pelosi to start impeachment proceedings against Trump. The groups — which included CREDO Action, Indivisible, Working Families Party and Women’s March — accused the House speaker of engaging in “dangerous inaction that enables this racist and xenophobic president.” “Instead of leading, you and your colleagues have asked us to wait — wait for the Mueller report, wait for the unredacted Mueller report, wait for Mueller’s testimony about the Mueller report, wait for more investigations, wait for bipartisan consensus, wait for impeachment to poll better, or wait for the 2020 election,” the letter says. (John Wagner)

-- Trump overstated his net worth in his prenuptial agreement with Marla Maples, which also shows he agreed to pay her only $1 million if they divorced, despite her asking for $25 million. She was desperate to get married because she had given birth to Tiffany Trump out of wedlock, according to Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman, who obtained the prenup: “While Trump presented himself as a Master of the Universe, back and bigger than ever, he was, in all likelihood, not an actual billionaire when he signed the agreement. … To keep himself in the nine-figure club, Trump provided extremely optimistic values for his real estate assets. For instance, he stated the [Trump] Taj Mahal was worth $1.25 billion, even though it had trouble making debt payments virtually from the moment it opened. … More than anything, the prenup shows how fiercely Trump wanted to protect the money he did have. … [He] would stop making $100,000 child support payments for Tiffany when she turned 21. The agreement states that Trump’s payments would cease earlier if Tiffany got a full-time job, enlisted in the military, or joined the Peace Corps.”

-- Russian trolls who interfered in the 2016 election also used fake accounts to make ad money, a new report found. NBC News’s Ken Dilanian reports: “The operation by the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency amounted to ‘a vast, coordinated campaign that was incredibly successful at pushing out and amplifying its messages,’ according to Symantec, which conducted an in-depth analysts of nearly 4,000 Twitter accounts involved in what U.S. intelligence agencies assess was a Russian-government-sponsored propaganda operation designed in part to help Donald Trump get elected president. Some of the accounts were set up months in advance. And some of the trolls used their fake accounts to make money on the side, the researchers found, with one potentially generating nearly $1 million.”

THE IMMIGRATION WARS:

-- The House last night advanced an immigration bill offering a path to citizenship to more than 2 million undocumented immigrants, including “dreamers.” Felicia Sonmez reports: “The vote was 237 to 187 for the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which would grant dreamers 10 years of legal residence status if they meet certain requirements. They would then receive permanent green cards after completing at least two years of higher education or military service, or after working for three years. … House Democratic leaders on Tuesday voiced optimism that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would bring up the legislation in the Senate. … But it is unlikely that the Senate will consider the bill: McConnell and other Senate Republican leaders made no mention of the bill at their weekly news conference Tuesday afternoon.”

-- Mark Morgan, the new Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief, said the agency plans on targeting more families for deportation. Nick Miroff reports: “’Our next challenge is going to be interior enforcement,’ Morgan said. ‘We will be going after individuals who have gone through due process and who have received final orders of deportation.’ ‘That will include families,’ Morgan said, adding that ICE agents will deport them ‘with compassion and humanity.’ ICE officials familiar with the plans … said the agency does not have an imminent operation planned. But the officials said that Morgan is eager to move forward and that preparations are underway.”

-- The GOP-led Senate is ready to derail the nomination of Trump’s pick to lead U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Politico’s Burgess Everett and Eliana Johnson report: “Ken Cuccinelli has spent years attacking Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans. Now, it’s time for payback. … There may be nobody in Washington whom McConnell and his allies would take more pleasure in defeating, and the bottom line is Cuccinelli has little chance of getting approved for the job, Republican senators said. … Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the Senate GOP’s chief vote-counter, called the bid ‘a long shot,’ adding, ‘They’ll go forward with it or they won’t, but I will suspect he’ll have plenty of obstacles once he gets here.’”

-- Doctors say Border Patrol agents are confiscating medicines from migrant kid. Yahoo News’s Caitlin Dickson reports: “Yahoo News spoke to five doctors … who volunteer at shelters and clinics on the border and each confirmed that they regularly see migrants with chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, seizures and high blood pressure, for which they claim to have had medication that was confiscated while they were in custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and neither returned nor replaced. It happens more frequently to adults, who are more likely to be on such medications in the first place, but doctors said they’ve been hearing similar reports from increasing numbers of children or their parents.”

-- Civil rights groups are asking a federal judge in Maryland to reconsider his conspiracy ruling on the census citizenship question after new evidence showed that a GOP strategist was working with the administration to add the question to benefit Republicans and non-Hispanic whites. Tara Bahrampour and Robert Barnes report: “The request, filed Monday night by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), said the new findings show the Trump administration sought to intentionally discriminate against Latinos and immigrants of color when it added the question.”

-- New emails suggest Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) pushed to speed up efforts to purge the voter rolls of noncitizens, a move that wound up putting the voting rights of thousands of legal citizens at risk. His office strongly denied the accusations. The Dallas Morning News’s James Barragán reports: “’This is patently false,’ said John Wittman, an Abbott spokesman. ‘Neither the Governor, nor the Governor's office gave a directive to initiate this process as the emails show. No one speaks for the Governor's office, but the Governor's office.’ In a batch of email conversations released Tuesday by the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign Legal Center — which represented plaintiffs in a subsequent lawsuit against the state -- employees of the Texas Department of Public Safety discuss the production of data for the Texas Secretary of State’s office, which in 2018 was trying to find ways to identify noncitizens on the state's voter rolls. ‘The Governor is interested in getting this information as soon as possible,’ Amanda Arriaga, director of the driver's license division for DPS, writes in an Aug. 27 email.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- The Trump administration is cracking down on travel to Cuba, banning cruise ships and a popular form of educational travel to the island. Karen DeYoung reports: “The regulations, part of [Trump’s] continuing rollback of the Obama-era thaw with Cuba, implement policies announced in April by national security adviser John Bolton in a Miami speech to veterans of the failed CIA-launched Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. The new rules do not include new restrictions on money sent by Cuban Americans to relatives on the island. Although it was also announced by Bolton, that policy is likely to be far less popular among the Cuban community in Florida. A Treasury Department spokesman, while declining to address the specific issue of remittances, said additional Cuba regulations were expected in the coming months.”

-- Contradicting a tweet from Trump, the Kremlin denied telling the United States that it was pulling personnel out of Venezuela. Amie Ferris-Rotman and Anton Troianovski report: “‘There have been no official messages in this regard from the Russian side nor could there be any,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. … Peskov said he had no idea what Trump’s tweet was referring to. … Peskov said Trump may have simply been referring to a newspaper report. The Wall Street Journal reported that Russian defense conglomerate Rostec had cut its staff of defense advisers in Venezuela, once totaling about 1,000, to a few dozen. Rostec, in a statement, denied the report. Russian officials have insisted that the country’s stance on Venezuela hasn’t changed.”

-- The Iran Disinformation Project, a State Department-funded initiative, attracted criticism for tweets targeting human rights activists and journalists. From Jason Rezaian, The Post’s former Tehran correspondent who spent a year and a half in an Iranian prison for his coverage: “On Friday, in response to the complaints, the State Department suspended the initiative’s funding ‘until the implementer takes necessary steps to ensure that any future activity remains within the agreed scope of work,’ a department official said. … The targets of the tweets included think-tank analysts, human rights activists and journalists (including me). The common thread is that we are all perceived by regime change proponents and supporters of the Trump administration’s so-called maximum pressure policy to be soft on Iran because we are critical of crushing economic sanctions and the threat of the use of military force against it.”

-- Australian police raided the Sydney offices of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. in connection with an article published two years ago about the country’s special forces being investigated for possible war crimes in Afghanistan. The New York Times’s Jamie Tarabay reports: “The raid of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s offices came a day after the same agency searched the home, computer and cellphone of a journalist who reported on secret correspondence between government ministries over a plan to expand intelligence agencies’ surveillance powers. The police said the two raids were not related. John Lyons, the executive editor of ABC News and the head of its investigative journalism unit, said on Twitter that the police had arrived at ABC’s headquarters with a search warrant that named three journalists. ‘We’ll be taking material with us. It will be sealed,’ he quoted one of the officers as saying.”

-- Acting defense secretary Pat Shanahan said he will not recommend punishments for senior officers over an ambush that killed four American soldiers in Niger. Politico’s Wesley Morgan and David Brown report: “Shanahan has accepted the conclusions of Army Gen. Robert Brown, whom he tapped earlier this year to review two previous military investigations into the 2017 attack, according to two defense officials familiar with the matter. The earlier inquiries had led to reprimands for seven Green Berets and a two-star Air Force general — but other senior officers in the chain of command have not been punished, including a Green Beret colonel who was the senior special operations commander for northwest Africa at the time.”

AMERICA DIVIDED: 

-- Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, the GOP operatives who tried (and failed) to drum up sexual assault allegations against Bob Mueller and Pete Buttigieg, see their mission as smearing critics of the president. Manuel Roig-Franzia and Beth Reinhard have a great profile: “As it turns out, the truth or falsity of a Burkman-Wohl-concocted story is merely an inconvenience. Let the media’s ‘puritanical’ fact-checkers puzzle it out: That’s the view of this twosome who fancy themselves as sub rosa players in the 2020 presidential contest and busy themselves trafficking in Internet rumors they hope will damage Democratic candidates. Like notorious dirty tricksters before them, they operate in a realm where it matters little whether their claims are proved — they hardly ever are — but only whether they somehow slip into a corpuscle or two of the national bloodstream. But today it’s a more dangerous game: They operate in an era when notions about truth and fiction have been upended and in which many Americans get their information from self-affirming, partisan silos, making their brand of political cyberwarfare hyper-relevant.”

-- Biden wondered whether Trump knows that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens during a rally in New Hampshire. “It’s shameful, the way we treated Puerto Rico and the islands,” Biden said. “I’m not even sure people in the president’s administration knew Puerto Ricans are all citizens.” … “I’m not joking,” Biden continued. “And so there’s this notion of somehow, why should we have to make and invest that kind of money in dealing with what is a genuine existential crisis?” (Politico)

-- A right-wing YouTuber has spent the past two years harassing a gay reporter, hurling racist and homophobic taunts at him, but the company will not shut his page down. Steven Crowder, a right-wing commentator and comedian, has used his YouTube platform to call out Vox producer Carlos Maza’s sexuality and race, but the company said the videos don’t violate its policies. (Eli Rosenberg)

-- “When They See Us,” the Netflix miniseries about the wrongful conviction of the Central Park Five, has prompted renewed backlash against former prosecutor turned mystery author Linda Fairstein. Some have called for a boycott of Fairstein’s best-selling novels as the former prosecutor, who supervised the investigation that resulted in the wrongful convictions of the five black and Latino teens, has continued to defend her office’s handling of the case. (Bethonie Butler)

-- Former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is helping to mobilize a “#StayAndFight” coalition to encourage Hollywood studios to stay in Georgia rather than boycott the state over its “heartbeat bill.” Abrams and her allies argue that the entertainment industry’s boycott over the restrictive abortion law would only deprive working-class people of jobs. She and the head of an abortion rights group are meeting with film industry leaders next week in Los Angeles to discuss the issue. (Hamza Shaban)

-- Two recently laid-off journalists are launching an initiative to raise awareness about how technology giants have influenced the media industry. John Stanton, the former Washington bureau chief of BuzzFeed News, and former HuffPost political reporter Laura Bassett are teaming up with a Democratic consultant to form the Save Journalism Project. (BuzzFeed News)

-- The mayor of an Alabama city apologized for a Facebook post after he was accused of “inciting violence” against the LGBTQ community. Mark Chambers, mayor of Carbon Hill, posted a status criticizing gay and transgender people and abortion rights and added a comment that some interpreted as a direct call to kill LGBTQ people. (Allyson Chiu

-- Civil rights organizations are urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to step up its oversight of the student-loan servicing industry to root out discrimination. Danielle Douglas-Gabriel reports: “The consumer bureau’s director, Kathleen Kraninger, told Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in April that servicing companies have refused since December 2017 to produce federal student-loan records under the direction of the Education Department. She said the consumer protection bureau has pursued options to obtain the information, but did not elaborate on whether those efforts have been successful. Civil rights groups, in a letter sent this week to Kraninger, said the bureau has a mandate from Congress to ensure servicers are complying with consumer financial laws and does not need permission from the Education Department to get those records. The seven organizations, including the NAACP and Center for Responsible Lending, said the director’s explanation for the lapse in robust supervision is unacceptable.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Around 1 a.m. British time, Trump attacked the singer Bette Midler for tweeting an incorrect quote from him:

From a CNN host:

From Biden's former chief of staff:

Chuck Schumer's claims that Trump is bluffing on the new Mexico tariffs appeared to get under the president's skin:

A Republican senator dodged a question about tariffs:

Another Senate Republican compared the criticism of the Trump administration's new policy on travel to Cuba to boycotts of states that have passed abortion restrictions:

A New York Times reporter noted this of the president's U.K. visit:

Another Times reporter shared this odd government document:

A Post writer looked back on this 2014 Trump tweet:

A former senior adviser to Barack Obama offered this thought on Trump's reelection chances:

And a Chicago Tribune reporter recognized the bravery of her aunt on a significant anniversary:

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“A teacher asked Trump to round up ‘illegal students’ — in tweets she says she thought were private,” from Alex Horton: “Georgia Clark, a veteran high school English teacher in Fort Worth, had an urgent request for President Trump: She needed help pulling undocumented immigrants from her school. ‘Mr. President, Fort Worth Independent School District is loaded with illegal students from Mexico,’ Clark wrote May 17 on her now-deleted Twitter account, @Rebecca1939. ‘Anything you can do to remove the illegals from Fort Worth would be greatly appreciated,’ she wrote in another tweet. … Clark says she didn’t mean for everyone to see her thoughts and requests on immigration. She says she believed the tweets were private between her and the president. But the very public messages have now embroiled her school district in scandal — and, less than three weeks after she authored them, they got her fired.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“When a young Joe Biden used his opponent's age against him,” from CBS News: “Decades before he kicked off his third bid for the presidency, Biden too ran on a platform of generational change. In 1972, Biden -- a 29-year-old, first-term city councilman in Delaware -- challenged a popular, two-term senator who was described at the time as ‘unbeatable.’ Both intellectually and physically, Biden aimed to contrast himself with Republican Sen. Cale Boggs, who was more than 30 years his senior. In order to accomplish this, Biden orchestrated a ‘sophisticated’ media strategy that argued Boggs' best governing days were behind him, according to former Delaware politics reporter Eleanor Shaw, who covered Biden's first senate campaign. ‘Cale Boggs' generation dreamed of conquering polio. Joe Biden's generation dreams of conquering heroin,’ declared one almost full-page ad. ‘[Biden] understands what's happening today.’”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump will commemorate D-Day before flying to Shannon, Ireland, where he will meet with the Irish prime minister.

Pence will meet with Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard. 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

Former Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) encouraged House Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump, reversing his position from a March interview: “It’s not the right thing to do nothing. … It’s not the right thing to jump into impeachment without doing an inquiry.” (Felicia Sonmez)

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- It’s warmer and more humid today as scattered storms appear. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “We say goodbye to those glorious blue skies and low humidity, and welcome back — perhaps not with open arms — warmer and more humid weather today, with some showers and storms likely as well. Tomorrow and Friday may actually trend a bit more comfortable again, before a more fuzzy forecast for this weekend.”

-- The Nationals beat the White Sox 9-5, the team’s eighth win in the past 10 games. (Jesse Dougherty)

-- A political action committee funded by Democratic megadonor George Soros spent nearly $1 million promoting liberal challengers in two Democratic primary races for prosecutor in Virginia. Justin Jouvenal and Rachel Weiner report: “The Justice and Public Safety PAC has donated about $583,000 to Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, a candidate for Arlington County commonwealth’s attorney, and $392,000 to Fairfax County commonwealth’s attorney candidate Steve T. Descano ahead of the June 11 primary, according to state figures released late Monday. The donations represent the lion’s share of the roughly $744,000 and $546,000 the candidates, respectively, have raised to date. Experts said the level of financing by a single committee may be unprecedented in a countywide race in Virginia and could refashion criminal justice in two of the state’s largest jurisdictions.”

-- “The Daily Show” is bringing Trump’s presidential Twitter library to the District. Helena Andrews-Dyer reports: “The late-night comedy show announced Tuesday that its award-winning pop-up exhibit — which has traveled from New York to Los Angeles since 2017 — will make its D.C. debut at the Showroom event space about half a dozen blocks away from the White House. The entire interactive exhibit, which first opened in Manhattan across the street from Trump Tower, is a huge social-media troll come to life, or, as former ‘Daily Show’ correspondent Hasan Minhaj first described it, ‘a living breathing ode to his greatest contribution to society.’”

 -- Two activists were arrested after trying to hang a banner at Freedom Plaza calling for the decriminalization of sex work in D.C. Marissa J. Lang reports: “The sign, which bore the slogan ‘decrim now’ written in pink letters, was cut down by police before the high-climbing demonstrators could hoist it above Freedom Plaza. U.S. Park Police officers arrested the two climbers as soon as they returned to the ground. ‘We love you,’ a group of about two dozen protesters chanted as officers handcuffed the two who had used climbing equipment to scale the flagpoles on Pennsylvania Avenue.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

A CNN reporter was forced off the air in China for reporting on the Tiananmen Square anniversary:

Stephen Colbert went through some of the ways British protesters poked fun at Trump during his visit:

Trevor Noah questioned Trump's fashion choices: 

And “Daily Show” correspondent Jaboukie Young-White interviewed Bernie Sanders about the reasons young Americans are embracing socialism:

An elderly woman spun wildly in a basket in what was supposed to be a routine helicopter rescue: